Silver lining in Blues snub for Cowboys leader
WHILE much of the speculation suggested Cowboys front-rower Jordan McLean would get the opportunity to pull on the sky blue for the first time this week, instead he will be experiencing a different kind of first.
In what is a silver lining to McLean's Origin snub from Brad Fittler's Blues, the towering metre-eater will take on the Cowboys captaincy in the absence of Michael Morgan.
Not only is it the first time McLean has captained a side in the NRL, it is the first time he has captained any football team. .
McLean will share the captaincy role with Cowboys veteran Gavin Cooper, who will become the fifth-most capped Cowboy as he plays his 220th game for the club.
While it might be a new experience, McLean said he is not feeling any added pressure.
"I don't think I have ever captained a team before. I can't remember the last time. Front-rowers don't normally captain teams, we (usually) leave that to the halfbacks," he said.
"It's definitely (an honour). I have been vice-captain to 'Morgs' throughout the year, between myself and the older boys we have all been saying our part through the first few rounds.
"I am sure nothing will change this week. We still have to go out and do a job, it is not any added pressure."
McLean will lead by example for the Cowboys forward pack which is missing the experience of Matt Scott (injury) and the workhorse efforts of Josh McGuire (Origin).
He has been in rarefied form this season punching out more than 140 metres per game.
He will make sure his voice is heard among his playing group, but as for talking to referees Henry Perenara and Jon Stone, that might be one for the co-captain.
"I will probably leave that with Coops, I get a bit of a heated head at times so he is probably the sane one. We will just take it as it comes," McLean said.
"For me not much has changed. When I have needed to say something, I say it. I think my form has been pretty good throughout the year."
Cowboys coach Paul Green said getting McLean more involved in the leadership of the Cowboys had been a plan for the club all season.
"That was the whole point of making him vice-captain, to develop that leadership. He is a leader in what he does, he just has to get a bit more comfortable in that role which is what he is doing," he said.
The 118kg heavyweight will also take extra incentive into the clash with the Titans on Sunday as he aims to show Fittler just what he is missing out on.
Green described his omission as surprising after McLean led from the front for the Australian Kangaroos during the Rugby League World Cup in 2017. In fact he has represented his country six times but is yet to make it to the Origin arena.
While he admitted he was feeling "disappointed" at missing out on the Blues cut, McLean was still holding out hope for the future.
"I would love to play for them at some stage but it wasn't to be. I will keep working hard at the Cowboys and see what happens in the future," he said.
"That is a good incentive to play, but my focus is always with the Cowboys and to play well for them. If it comes at some stage I will grab it."
But just because he is not at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, it won't stop the boy from Young from cheering on his mates in blue.